"Weed candy" just one way teenagers hide marijuana use
It's the number one drug used in Indianapolis. Now it's showing up in places you would least expect.
Across the country, police agencies are reporting evidence of a new way to disguise illegal drugs, by wrapping them in familiar and innocent looking covers.
"Weed candy" is marijuana cooked into hard candy - and it's beginning to make its way to Indiana.
"We've probably had no more than a handful of cases come through in the past six months. Most of it sprouts from states that have legalized marijuana," said IMPD Capt. Robert Holt.
The candy, seized by IMPD and stored in plastic evidence bags in the drug property room, is likely homemade, Holt says. The more sophisticated forms of the drug are wrapped to look like Jolly Rancher Candies or, in some cases, candy bars.
"A lot of stuff is coming in the mail. That's how a lot of kids are getting their hands on these marijuana candy products," said Nancy Beals, Prevention Project Coordinator for Drug Free Marion County.
While the candy form is new, hiding drugs is and old notion. Beals uses a backpack to demonstrate to parent groups the various ways their children can hide their drug use.
In the backpack, she has everyday items that are drug hiding spots. A two-liter Coca-Cola bottle that shakes like the real thing can be unscrewed to reveal a cup in the middle, where drugs can be stashed. A magic marker transforms into a marijuana pipe. Gummy Bears can be soaked in alcohol. A bag of M & M's emptied and replaced with prescription drugs.
"It's gotten to be more sophisticated, more hidden," Beals said.
Marijuana is the number one illegal drug in Indianapolis. Its trial rate among middle school age children is growing at an alarming rate. According to Beals, by eighth grade, 17 percent have reported trying marijuana. That increases to 50 percent by 12th grade.
While it's not as potent in the candy form as it is smoked or inhaled, the long term effects of marijuana use can be just as damaging.
"The problem in Marion County is the early onset of use," Beals said. "We know individuals will start using addictive substances, be it alcohol, be it marijuana, be it whatever, prescription drugs. The early onset of use and continued use is indicative of later addiction."
In the short term, Beals says, "We're seeing more and more impaired driving cases related to marijuana usage."
But, she says, prevention starts with parents.
"You have to get really nosy, you have to verify," Beals said.